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Monday, March 7, 2016

Amish farm near White Horse PA 3/3/16 (Click to enlarge)
A Lancaster County farm
That's a lot of white fence!
Click to enlarge

"Lost Keys, Lost Souls"

Message Summary:
This parable reminds each of us that we personally matter to God. There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God every time a sinner repents. If you have not repented and placed your faith in Christ, today would be a great day to bring about some rejoicing in heaven!

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"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:8-10).

Key Holder Do you ever misplace anything? Anyone who says never I suspect is personally deceived. But certainly some have a greater problem with misplacing items more than others ("misplaced" being a gentler word used in place of "losing") . As we age we find we are more prone to losing things. In our home the biggest issue is keys. We have a key holder within reach of the door we use to come and go, and when disciplined, we immediately place the keys on the little hooks upon our return home. But... there are occasions when we might toss them on a dresser, tuck them into a coat pocket or they might get buried deep in the bowels of Brooksyne's purse.

Early this year we wrote a message about a nifty key finder Brooksyne gave me as a Christmas gift that beeps when you whistle. I pointed out in the earlier message the problem was the little lo-tech thing-a-ma-jig beeped at any high pitched sound regardless of where we were and whether or not we were looking for our keys. The device's hypersensitivity made it essentially worthless and definitely annoying. Brooksyne finally returned it and even the cashier was annoyed by its continuous beeping to the point she removed it from her workplace.

Tile key finderLast week we received a small mystery package in the mail containing four "tiles", a little hi-tech search device that you can place on a keychain which connects to your phone through the Bluetooth. We have no idea who sent them to us or if it's just a "miracle". Whatever, we are thankful! Now we have them on each set of keys and one in Brooksyne's purse in case she misplaces it, which she has been known to do on more than one occasion. I misplaced our main set of keys several weeks ago and wish there was a way to make the device work retroactively!

Lost coinLosing items is not distinct to our generation or geographical location. Jesus told parables and remarkably, two thousand years later, people in every culture still identify with them. After all, we've all lost something of value and know the relief and joy in finding it. That's how we will feel when we find our main missing set of keys! The series of parables in Luke 15 all illustrate the lostness of humanity and the great joy in the redemption plan, with an emphasis today on just one coin of ten that was found and just one sinner of millions who repents.

Lost coin Due to our understanding of coins (which to us are usually small change of little value) it's hard to identify with this woman who went to such effort to find one coin out of ten. We might see it like a frantic search for a dime. But without paper currency this coin was a significant loss to the woman either due to its value or her poverty.* She lit a lamp, swept the house and searched carefully until she found it.

It's especially hard for us to imagine calling our friends and neighbors over to rejoice with us when we find a lost coin! I can't imagine telling them to come over and rejoice with me when I've found a missing dime in the seat cushion. But this single coin had great value to this woman reminding us of the great value of one sinner who repents. What's more, aren't you thankful for friends that rejoice with you even in small rather than just the large blessings?

This parable reminds each of us that we personally matter to God. There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God every time a sinner repents. If you have not repented and placed your faith in Christ, today would be a great day to bring about some rejoicing in heaven!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank You for speaking to us through Bible doctrine, parables, fellow believers, and through life-altering events in our lives. You beamed Your searchlight from the portals of heaven to show us how lost we were. We’re tremendously blessed to know that celestial beings held a celebration in heaven when we  chose to be Your followers. Though misplacing material items leads to time lost and great frustration, misplacing our faith leads to error and eternal damnation. Father, You've shown us the way and instructed us, "This is the way; walk in it." Help us to seek out others who've yet to find the way so that they too will follow You and cause rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

* The Life Application Study Bible points out that women at that time received ten silver coins as a wedding gift. Besides their monetary value, these coins held sentimental value like that of a wedding ring, and to lose one would be extremely distressing. Just as a woman would rejoice at finding her lost coin or ring, so the angels would rejoice over a repentant sinner. Each individual is precious to God. He grieves over every loss and rejoices whenever one of His children is found and brought into the kingdom. Perhaps we would have more joy in our churches if we shared Jesus' love and concern for the lost.

Sunday School class 3/6/16
Brooksyne's Sunday School class has learned the "Fruit Of The Spirit" after she set it to music. She has used these homemade fruit signs for many years and we wouldn't be surprised if some of our now middle-aged adult readers might still recall learning the "Fruit Of The Spirit" when Mrs. Weber taught their class using these home-made signs!

"Fruit Of The Spirit" song 3/6/16
Brooksyne had some fun at us "big people's" expense when she needed more fruit bearing sign holders on the platform while the children presented "The Fruit of the Spirit" song. There's nothing that brings bigger smiles on the faces of people at church than children singing from their hearts or sharing Scripture verses, even if they're not your own kids or grandchildren.

Stan and Deb Miller 3/6/16
Yesterday our congregation honored Stan and Deb Miller who led our youth group for a long time including Ester's teen years. The wall plaque with the Scripture, "Teach me your way, O Lord. Lead me in a straight path" (Psalm 27:11) well describes their dedicated service in teaching and leading our youth for many, many years. Be sure to let your youth leaders know how much their dedication to your youth means to you as a church, since youth ministry is a very difficult and often discouraging labor of love!

Just my perspective: A popular mega church pastor recently made some news due to a statement in a message dismissive of small churches (see here for video clip). "If You Don't Go To a Large Church, You're Selfish and Don't Care About Your Kids". Now I understand he walked the statement back but there is a certain pride I've noted in mega-type churches and their leadership. We attend a small church of about 100 although we actually have a mega church of several thousand nearby. Our youth group did and does include kids in a larger age span than some "experts" would recommend but in our fifteen years in this church we have seen many of the youth transition into adulthood maintaining and growing in their commitment to Christ. Of course we've seen some fall away but can any church, big or small, claim they don't have any that fall away? The increase is a troubling trend both in small and large mega-type churches.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Amazing Grace"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  "I once was lost, but now I'm found!"

Information about Tile finder  Yesterday I managed to still set off an alarm during our church service. Your phone not only finds the tile attached to your key ring but if you press a button on the tile twice it "finds" your phone. Apparently I was jiggling the keys in my pocket and inadvertently set off the finder which caused a double alarm in my panicked heart!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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